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Los Angeles begins annual homeless count

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County’s annual homeless count began Tuesday night, an important part of the region’s efforts to get tens of thousands of homeless people off the streets.

Up to 6,000 notepad-wielding volunteers from the Los Angeles Office of Homeless Services fanned out for the main component of the effort, street counting without shelter.

The so-called “point in time” count will be conducted over three days and aims to estimate how many people are homeless and what services they may need, such as mental health or drug treatment.

The count of Los Angeles County is the largest among similar counts in major cities in the country. The count, which also uses population and housing counts, is mandated by the federal government to receive certain types of funding.

This year’s count comes amid public outrage over a perceived failure – despite costly efforts – to reduce a growing population of people living in cars, tents and makeshift street shelters.

A 2022 tally showed that more than 69,000 people were homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County, up 4.1% from 2020. About 42,000 people lived in the city of Los Angeles, where public discontent grew as tents multiplied on sidewalks and in parks. other places.

The 2021 count has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Karen Bass, the new mayor of Los Angeles, has joined the city and county of Los Angeles to start counting votes in the North Hollywood area of ​​Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.

“Honestly, the only way we can really handle this crisis is if we all have skin in the game and skin in the game tonight,” Bass said at a press conference.

Counting also began in the San Gabriel Valley east of downtown.

On her first day in office last month, Bass declared a state of emergency for the homeless. The mayor, a Democrat, said she intends to move more than 17,000 homeless people into temporary and permanent housing in her first year.

City Hall, the City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have said they intend to work together to overcome the crisis. Progress has not been clear despite billions spent on anti-homelessness programs, including $1.2 billion in the current city budget.

Homelessness is still widespread throughout California, with people living in tents and cars and sleeping outside on sidewalks and under overpasses.

It is expected that the results of the count of the homeless will be published in late spring or early summer.

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